LWIT Receives Grant Money to Serve Adult English Learners

December  12, 2012

Contact: Jen Boyer, Media Relations
Lake Washington Institute of Technology
(425) 739-8236, jen.boyer@lwtech.edu


Kirkland, Wash.:  Lake Washington Institute of Technology (LWIT) will receive $136,282 through a State Board for Community and Technical Colleges grant supported by funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. One of 10 state community and technical colleges receiving the overall $3.5 million grant, LWIT will use the funds to develop open source curriculum for students in low-level English courses designed to accelerate their education toward a degree.

The Foundation funds were given in support of the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges' (SBCTC) Integrated Digital English Acceleration (I-DEA) project grant. The program - which builds on the success of the Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) initiative - creates open source curriculum for adult learners in the lowest three levels English as a Second Language (ESL) to help them complete school sooner.

"Right now we're seeing students in ESL 1, 2 and 3 infrequently making the jump to the next ESL levels, as well as to college-level courses, due to the time and financial commitment involved," said Doug Emory, Dean of Academic Core, Hospitality, Service, at LWIT. "We are aiming to change that with this grant, using the funds to develop a hybrid program that essentially gets these students working with college-level course content from day one."

State I-BEST programs literally help students get through college and into the workforce sooner. Traditionally, students were required to complete all basic education and ESL courses before attending courses counting toward a certificate or degree. I-BEST allows students in higher levels of ESL courses (ESL 4, 5 and 6) to take college credit courses by providing both the course instructor and an ESL instructor in I-BEST classes, allowing the student to complete both the ESL course and the college-level course in one class. In addition to this I-BEST model, LWIT has successfully run a program within its I-BEST curriculum called On-Ramp for the lower-level ESL courses (ESL 1, 2, and 3) where students attend math and computing courses with ELS instructors present.

"We were invited to participate in this exciting project based off our success with our own On-Ramp curriculum," said Mihaela Cosma, ESL and Adult Basic Education Chair at LWIT. "This is a wonderful opportunity for the LWIT students as well as the faculty. By participating in the design phase, we become trainers for the remaining 24 colleges."

With the funds, LWIT will immediately begin developing a hybrid (part in-person, part online) open source curriculum based on its On-Ramp model. Starting in Fall 2013, the college will offer the course to up to 25 students and provide those students with loaned laptop computers to assist them in attending the course and completing the coursework, at no additional charge.

LWIT is currently serves the largest ESL population on the Eastside, with more than 1,300 students enrolled in ESL courses from around the region. 


Lake Washington Institute of Technology (LWIT) is a broad-based polytechnic college offering instruction in 36 areas of instruction toward a spectrum of more than 100 bachelor and associate level degrees and certificates designed to give students the latest cutting edge skills relevant to today's workplace. For information and news about LWIT programs, please visit our Press Room.